LONDON-Actions by a single opposition political leader in Liberia have done more for President George Weah’s chances of a second term in the next election than any action by the incumbent over the last three years, writes Desmond Davies

AS the country prepared for next year’s presidential election, opposition politicians formed the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) to select a single unity candidate against Weah.

But since then, there has been a falling out among the leaders of the four parties within the CPP, comprising the All Liberian Party (ALP) under Benoni Urey; the Alternative National Congress (ANC) headed by Alexander Cummings; the Liberty Party (LP) under Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence; and the Unity Party (UP), led by former Vice President Joseph Boakai.

Allegations of political abuse of the legal process began when, on January 10, the ALP filed a case of forgery against Cummings for allegedly falsifying sections of the Framework Document mapping out the CPP’s election strategy.

The ALP leader, the combative Urey (pictured), a Charles Taylor-era functionary, claimed that his party was not a signatory to the changes that spelt out how parties should exit the CPP.

Urey told the VOA this week: ‘The All Liberian Party had a convention and decided that we will withdraw from the CPP and then we will prosecute whosever was involved in forging our signature, altering the document that we participated in that is called the Framework Document and bring them to justice.’

Political observers quickly picked this up, pointing out that since the ALP had left the CPP, it had no right to make claims of forgery against the ANC.

ndeed, Cummings said that the ALP’s act was ‘unfounded and politically’ motivated. This position was supported by the publication of leaked WhatsApp messages that purported to show that the Weah administration was complicit in Urey’s actions.

Cummings and other Liberia-watchers were quick to observe that Urey’s move could only serve the interest of Weah, whom the ANC leader says he wants to be a one-term president.

Cummings told the BBC on Monday: ‘This action will leave us undeterred, [as] we are determined to run our political course and make our case to the Liberian people to make Mr Weah a one-term president.

‘I think the ALP has decided to leave the CPP which is their right, and therefore I don’t understand the basis for these allegations.

‘They’re unfounded and I believe they’re all political. I believe unfortunately, that Mr. Urey is, perhaps, being used by the government because a united opposition makes it difficult for Mr. Weah to replace himself,’ Cummings said.

“Why would I want to change a document that equally affects me as well?

‘This is why this is baseless, this is political. But when we actually receive the writ, as a law-abiding citizen, we will make ourselves available to whatever the processes are as per our lawyers’ recommendation,’ Cummings added.

These actions by Urey and Weah are yet another case of African politicians shooting themselves in the foot.

What the furore has highlighted is the fact that Cummings, with his vast international experience in business management, is seen as a major threat to Weah, who has not been able to deliver for Liberians.

Although Boakai has had experience as vice president, many Liberians are looking for a leader who would radically change the direction in which the country currently finds itself under Weah; a direction defined by poor economic management.

For Weah, the more the CPP bickers, the better for him.

This was how Yahya Jammeh managed to cling on to power for 22 years in The Gambia – because there were too many challengers to his presidency in Africa’s smallest country.

However, when Jammeh locked up most of the political leaders before the 2016 presidential election, he was outwitted by Adama Barrow who triumphed.

‘Liberia needs to go the same way as The Gambia in 2016,’ one Liberian political analyst told Africa Briefing.

‘Weah knows that, between Cummings and Boakai, he stands a better chance of winning if he runs against the latter.

‘Thus, it would make sense for him to muddy the waters for Cummings and therefore create a division in the opposition,’ the analyst added.

In a country that has witnessed two civil wars brought about by the insensitivity of Liberian politicians, the CPP would do well to reduce the tension that is beginning to rise.

This should not be lost on Urey, who told Africa Briefing late last year: ‘A free, fair, and credible election in 2023 is vital to sustaining the peace and stability of Liberia.’

In all this, though, it would be Weah who would benefit from a bitter split within the ranks of the CPP.

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